Shocking your memory awake

A University of California at Los Angeles study has found that light shocks to a person’s brain before they learnt a new task helped strengthen their memory. This study was performed on seven epilepsy patients and researchers feel that it may have implications for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease.  With the rapid ageing of the U.S. population there is a sense of urgency within the government as well as the medical community about finding a cure for Alzheimer’s which mostly affects the elderly, leaving them completely dependent others for their daily care.

The patients who took part in this study were fitted with pacemakers known as deep brain stimulators to help find the source of their epileptic seizures; the team took this chance to study the effects of stimulating the brain on memory. These pacemakers known as deep brain stimulators made by Medtronic and St. Jude Medical center are already in use to calm the muscle tremors that occur with Parkinson’s disease, and other such disorders. These pacemakers are implanted in the chest under the skin, and have wires that lead up to tiny electrodes that are implanted deep in the brain and produce electrical impulses.

 

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